|#31||Sam Bowie (L)||C-F||So.||7-1||230||Lebanon, PA (High)||All-American [Consensus (2nd), AP (3rd), UPI (3rd), NABC (2nd), USBWA (2nd), Converse (1st), Sporting News (2nd), Basketball Times, Helms]; All-SEC [First Team (AP, UPI & Coaches)];|
|#10||Dirk Minniefield (L)||G||So.||6-3||180||Lexington, KY (Lafayette)||All-SEC [Third Team (AP & UPI)];|
|#32||Derrick Hord (L)||G-F||So.||6-6||215||Bristol, TN (Tennessee)||-|
|#40||Fred Cowan (L)||C-F||Sr.||6-8||205||Sturgis, KY (Union County)||-|
|#34||Chuck Verderber (L)||F||Jr.||6-6||220||Lincoln, IL (High)||Academic All-American; Academic All-SEC; (Mid-season appendectomy);|
|#44||Charles Hurt (L)||F||So.||6-6||215||Shelbyville, KY (Shelby County)||-|
|#20||Jim Master (L)||G||Fr.||6-5||170||Fort Wayne, IN (Paul Harding)||-|
|#54||Melvin Turpin (L)||C||Fr.||6-11||240||Lexington, KY (Bryan Station) [Fork Union Military Academy, Fork Union, VA]||-|
|#24||Bret Bearup (L)||C-F||Fr.||6-9||230||Greenlawn, NY (Harborfields)||-|
|#11||Dicky Beal (L)||G||Fr.||5-9||170||Covington, KY (Holmes)||-|
|#15||Chris Gettelfinger (L)||G||Sr.||6-2||185||Knoxville, TN (Catholic)||-|
|#12||Bo Lanter (L)||G||Jr.||6-1||175||Versailles, KY (Woodford County)||-|
|#33||Tom Heitz||F||Red||6-9||215||Hamilton, IN (High)||(Did not play - redshirt);|
| Schedule | Player Statistics | Game Statistics |
First Row (l to r): Equipment Manager Bill Keightley, Head Coach Joe Hall, Dirk Minniefield, Bo Lanter, Jim Master, Chris Gettelfinger, Dicky Beal, Associate Coach Leonard Hamilton, Manager George Fletcher
Season Review - by David Cooper and Terry Keys (Kentuckian)
REVIVAL OF A DYNASTY
They were ranked number one in the preseason polls.
In that respect, the 1980-81 Wildcat basketball team didn't live up to the fans' expectations. But to say the season was a failure would be wrong.
On the contrary, the regular season ended with a Big Blue BANG!
More than 24,000 sixth men turned out on the first Sunday in March to scream, stomp, and inspire the young Wildcats to a 73-71 victory over SEC champion and hated rival LSU. For the fans, NBC commentators Al McGuire, Billy Packer and a national television audience, the talent and intensity of the young Wildcats indicated that the basketball critics around the country might have been right about Coach Joe Hall's two back-to-back recruiting years. It might be the beginning of something big.
The win over the second-ranked Tigers avenged a 14-point loss at Baton Rouge and gave the Wildcats a 22-4 record as they headed for the SEC Tournament in Birmingham, Ala. But more importantly, it included all the bright spots that made the season one that Wildcat fans won't soon forget.
- There was an unmistakable alley-oop pass from Dirk Minniefield to Sam Bowie for a rim-rattling slam dunk. It was so spectacular that McGuire stood up, put his hands on his head and proclaimed it, 'The shot of the year!"
-Sophomore Charles Hurt continued his high percentage shooting with nearly 60 percent from the field while freshman center Melvin Turpin's perfect five-for-five from the floor gave the Cats the extra spark they needed-just as he had done so often during the season.
-Freshman guard Jim Master, one of the leading free throw shooters in the SEC. continued his consistency at the line.
-Hard-nosed defense by another freshman, forward Bret Bearup, and the inspiring play of junior Chuck Verderber kept the explosive LSU team under control throughout the game.
-Derrick Hord, playing 38 minutes of the game, supplied consistent play. Hall alternated Hord between forward and guard throughout the year.
-UK's lone senior starter, Fred Cowan, had his problems during the year, but he started his final home game by scoring the first six points. That brought the noise level in Rupp Arena to nothing short of deafening.
But the atmosphere wasn't always one of victory. After the first few contests against such highly ranked squads as Ohio State, Indiana and Kansas, it looked as if the preseason pollsters had picked the right squad to hold that lofty position. However, in the annual UK-Notre Dame matchup in Louisville, sloppy defense resulted in foul trouble and Notre Dame used the situation to their advantage. The Fighting Irish outscored the Wildcats 25-5 from the free throw line and came away with a 67-61 upset.
The loss was of little significance to either teams' chances for post-season play, but it pointed to a lack of motivation in the Wildcat camp. "This game really bothers me," Hall said later, "The spirit just wasn't there."
The problems, combined with Notre Dame's determination not to lose for the seventh consecutive year at Freedom Hall, led to the first of four regular season defeats.
But the Cats bounced back with a victory over outclassed Maine. Led by Hord's 10-for-16 from the field, the Cats racked up a 100-54 victory, prompting a Georgia scout to predict, "They'll kill us."
Not quite. But the Cats did earn a 76-62 victory over the Bulldogs in Rupp Arena. The win preceded a road victory over Auburn and homecourt wins over Tennessee and Mississippi.
But Hall's team didn't seem to be playing with its early season intensity. Consequently, Alabama and LSU had the Cats' number when they traveled to the Deep South.
After those two losses, many wondered if the "January slump" might be permanent. A 52-point win over a young Florida team relieved some of those fears. After the game, the man UK had come to depend on, Sam Bowie, said simply, "I think we just got tired of losing."
It looked as if the problems were solved, but after wins against Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Georgia and Auburn, Tennessee thrashed the Cats 87-71 in Knoxville. "We were out-quicked and out-played," Hall said after the game. He called the disaster his team's worst effort of the year.
That set the stage for six consecutive victories including the emotional win over LSU. During a pep rally the night before the game, Coach Joe Hall brazenly told the 4,000 in attendance that with the help of the fans, 'Together, we'll kick the Tigers' ass."
They did. And the dreams of a dynasty continued. - by DAVID COOPER
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
They start their day with dripping shower heads and cafeteria food-just like everyone else on the north side of campus. In fact, the entire day resembles that of an average campus student. But come sundown, "their" tempo races far ahead of the masses-while everyone else relaxes at the end of the day, the Kentucky Wildcats prepare for a game at Rupp Arena.
Morning finds Wildcat Lodge quiet, at least until the alarm clocks start going off-a buzz here and a radio there - at staggered intervals. A shower and a shave later, team members trickle into the Student Center cafeteria for a quick breakfast before classes begin.
After a morning of classes, the players converge in the Student Center President's Room for a private noon meal. Steak, noodles, vegetables and ice cream, all high energy foods, are the standard fare - "Nothing ever changes around here," said Dirk Minniefield.
Finished with the meal, the team returns to the Lodge for two hours of "down time." From 2 p.m. until 4 p.m., players must stay off of their feet. Dicky Beal and Jim Master prefer to watch "All My Children" and listen to music, but others may take a nap or simply talk.
Served at 5 p.m. in the President's Room, the evening meal basically consists of the same foods as the noon meal, but the food is about the only thing that stays the same. Some players have changed into suits for the trip to Rupp Arena and others remain in blue jeans, but all of them are in a somber mood. There is an occasional smile, a suppressed chuckle, but mostly silence. Following the meal, Coach Joe Hall and his staff replay game films and discuss strategy with the players.
Between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m. the troupe arrives at the Rupp Arena dressing room. Tom Heitz, redshirted for his sophomore year, reads a textbook as the others prepare for the game. The mood remains somber.
Dicky Beal eats an orange slice and peers at the wall in deep concentration. Sam Bowie bends to hear last minute instructions from Coach Hall. One by one, the players take their seats in front of the blackboard. Coach Hall makes a brief talk, then it's off to the floor for the pre-game warmup.
Returning to the dressing room, players take to the seats once again for the traditional pep talk. When finished, they huddle together before running out of the room and into the spacious hallway. It's game time.
Screams, clapping and the pep band announce the entrance of the basketball team to the 23,000-plus Wildcat fans. Fouls, field goals and 20 game minutes later, the team returns to the dressing room for a break and an update on their performance. The concentration never stops. After the halftime warmup, another pep talk is in order then it's back for more hard work and perspiration.
The final half finished, the players again exit and brace themselves for the deluge of faithful followers who invade the privacy of their dressing room for a chance to talk and get autographs. Coach Hall makes a few remarks about player performance and the outcome of the game before the team faces a barrage of flashes, floodlights and microphones in the press room.
The hallway is literally packed with friends, family and fans, and each player wades through the masses at least once in the course of the night.
Having survived the game, the fans and the press, the players make their way through the crowd signing autographs before leaving for a limited time of relaxation-curfew is at midnight. The return to normalcy, however, is short-lived. But the players take it all in stride. After all, it is a typical day in the life of a Kentucky Wildcat. - by TERRY KEYS
A BITTER END
It was a dream turned into a nightmare; ecstacy turned into agony.
After the poise and confidence the young Wildcats displayed in defeating LSU in the final regular season game, their fans, their coach, and it seemed, the world in general, expected great things in post-season action.
But tournament play is unpredictable at best and the Wildcats' postseason play couldn't have been worse.
At first, it seemed as though the enthusiasm of the LSU game might carry over to the SEC Tournament in Birmingham as the Cats led Vanderbilt 10-0 in the first few minutes. But the Commodores fought back and tied the score at 27 to end the first half.
In the second period, Wildcat faithful watched in disbelief as Vandy, a team the Cats whipped by 32 points less than two weeks earlier, took the lead for good at the 8:31 mark and earned a 60-55 victory.
Afterward, no one could explain the Cats' lethargic play. Coach Joe B. Hall tried to look ahead, "!'m not sure what this will mean to our NCAA plans."
However, the plans were short-lived. The Blazers of the University of Alabama-Birmingham defeated the Cats in the first Mideast Regional game. In a week of NCAA upsets, UK was the rule rather than the exception. The Cats defeated Gene Bartow's Alabama-Birmingham squad during the regular season. But the Blazers brought the Wildcats' hopes of a national championship to an abrupt halt with a 69-62 win.
"We seemed flat," Hall said. "We did not play with as much emotion as we had earlier in the year."
In fact, except for a flash of brilliance in games against Ohio State, Indiana, and of course, LSU, the team never seemed to reach the potential that had led fans to dream of another basketball dynasty.
Hall attributed most of his team's inconsistency to youth. "We have been more consistent when we have had the more mature teams in the past," he said.
"I think we will be a lot different team next year," said Hall. - by DAVID COOPER